Expert Patients Programme
The Expert Patients Programme is run by volunteers for the NHS. The people in charge of teaching are themselves expert patients and they have already attended the course. Their leaflet’s catchphrase is: Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was referred by Ingeus but you can ask your GP to refer you or refer yourself. 2,5 hours for six weeks could change your life, especially if you have never come across some of the concepts introduced by this course. I have read so many self-help books that I thought this course could possibly not teach me anything but it did. You get a lovely course book (produced in the US, no surprise that it is good). North America in general have a more holistic approach to health.
By taking part in the course you can learn to manage pain, tiredness and other symptoms. Cope when feeling low or depressed. Find ways of doing things you want to or need to do. Practise relaxation. Find ways to deal with problems. Improve communication skills. Work towards a healthy lifestyle. Learn how to make small changes to gradually improve your life. You use action plans and diaries to make gradual improvements.
The first time I went I have to admit I did not want to be there surrounded by other ill strangers who were struggling to manage just like me. Why would I want to listen to all this misery ? – it made me depressed. The second week, it got a bit better but I was still thinking what I am doing here?. The teachers were however lovely and I thought that I must have something to learn since attending was making me feel uncomfortable. By listening to others and being listen to in return, I learnt that it does not matter how much theoretical knowledge I have about getting better – improving my overall health – if I don’t take responsibility for myself and start to make changes I will never improve. Change is frightening especially when you are ill because I fight to remain in control of myself everyday. Deliberate change is self-inflicted loss of control.
As the course progressed I saw other patients improve at a rapid rate. This course does not cure you but can help you manage better and you will make great friends along the ways too. And by the way, it is free.